GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG – ISSUE NO. 124
10 FEBRUARY 2012
“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”
– Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.
Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep.
For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask:
“Hendo, are you OK?”
– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.
I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson’s wife, not his dog.”
– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011
“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails
are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s
Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.
Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”
– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.
“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work”
– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.
“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”
- Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)
“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”
- Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012
● Stop Press/Howler – AFR’s Jim Killen/Communist Party Stuff Up
● Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week : Attard Moves to Greenie Teat
● Robert Manne’s Gillard Fudge in Sunday Age
● Can You Bear It? Shaun Carney Gets Stuck Into Voters; Farrah Tomajim Sees Catholic-Trade Union Conspiracy;
Peter FitzSimons Sneers At Christians (Again)
● Mike Carlton Wins Inaugural Luke & Leia Award for Hyperbole
● Phillip Adams AO – As Channelled by Nancy
● Correspondence: Fred Hilmer Goes Post-Modern At Factless UNSW;
Michael Pearce SC’s Dignified Correction Censored by The Age
STOP PRESS MEETS NANCY’S HOWLER OF THE WEEK
JIM KILLEN & COMMUNIST PARTY PREFERENCES MYTH RESURFACES IN AFR
The “Review” section in today’s Australian Financial Review contains an article by academic economist Alex Millmow on the 1961 Federal election – when the Coalition led by Robert Menzies narrowly defeated Labor led by Arthur Calwell. The Menzies Government was returned to office when Jim Killen narrowly retained the Brisbane seat of Moreton for the Liberal Party.
According to Dr Millmow:
His [Killen’s] tight win gave the Menzies government a majority of one in the House of Representatives. Killen, a fervent anti-communist who had exposed a KGB spy within the visiting Bolshoi ballet troupe, won on 130 Communist Party preferences.
Not so. There were four candidates contesting Moreton in 1961 in the following order – C. J. Hagen (Democratic Labor Party), M.N. Julius (Communist Party of Australia), D.J. Killen (Liberal Party) and J.E. O’Donnell (Australian Labor Party). O’Donnell scored the highest primary vote followed by Killen, Hagen and Julius.
The Communist Party directed its preferences to the ALP in the 1961 election. M. N. Julius was eliminated first and his preferences were distributed – since Killen was ahead of O’Donnell on the ticket, there was probably a down-the-ticket donkey vote which favoured Killen.
In any event, the result was not decided by the distribution of Julius’ preferences. Then Hagen’s preferences were distributed and they put Killen ahead of O’Donnell for the first time in the count. Clearly Killen was elected – and the Menzies Government returned – on Democratic Labor Party preferences.
The myth that Killen won Moreton on Communist Party preferences was demolished four decades ago. See the articles titled “Mr Killen’s Preferences – 1961” by Adam Graycar and Joan Rydon in the November 1971 issue of Politics.
As to Alex Millmow’s claim that Jim Killen exposed a KGB spy within the visiting Bolshoi Ballet troupe – well, even Jim Killen did not make such a claim in his autobiography Killen: Inside Australian Politics (1985).
MONICA ATTARD’S SOFT ABC INTERVIEWS ON GRAEME WOOD’S THE GLOBAL MAIL
Question: How do you get a soft interview on ABC Radio or ABC TV.
Answer: Be a part of the ABC leftie-luvvie culture, that’s how.
Monday saw the launch of The Global Mail news and features website which is fully financed by Wotif entrepreneur Graeme Wood, who is also a big donor to the Greens.
Interviewed by Sally Jackson for The Australian’s “Media” section last Monday, the delightful Ms Attard revealed that she has worked for the ABC for the past 28 years. This involved waiting around each month when ABC management handed out a stack of taxpayer’s money for a job well done.
Now Ms Attard will be working for Graeme Wood, who each month, will hand out a stack of his own money to The Global Mail team.
Asked about whether she would ever get around to raising money for The Global Mail – which does not accept subscriptions or advertising – Monica Attard had some delightful answers.
Sally Jackson: Graeme Wood is putting more than $15m into the project. How long will that money last? What happens when it runs out?
Monica Attard: The money will last five years. I can’t see over the horizon after five years. Yet. Come back to me in one year on this one.
Sally Jackson: Will the site be aiming to make any money? How?
Monica Attard: We would like to think we can come up with novel ways to help pay our way in the world. We haven’t thought of any yet. That’s the honest-to-god truth.
How delightful. Monica Attard and The Global Mail team have not the faintest idea about how to raise money. She and her colleagues are content to remain on the Graeme Wood five year plan drip-feed – just as Ms Attard was on the taxpayer funded drip at the ABC for almost three decades.
Imagine, just imagine, what ABC types would have said if a website – edited by, say, Janet Albrechtsen was set up and funded by Gina Rinehart for $3 million a year for five years. All hell would have broken out.
But for ex-ABC type Monica Attard and her essentially ex-ABC and ex-Fairfax Media staff, there’s no problem. Green and Wood good. Brown and Rinehart bad.
And so it came to pass that Monica Attard received a soft interview and a free plug on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on Monday. She was interviewed by – Karina Carvalho and Michael Rowland.
It was much the same when Monica Attard was interviewed by Richard Aedy on ABC Radio National’s The Media Report on 27 January. Let’s go to the transcript:
Richard Aedy: When one of the country’s richest men [i.e. Graeme Wood] wants to back a new journalism venture, that’s a very nice position to be in. So, how much money has Monica Attard got?
Monica Attard: Well, we have, it’s a pretty flexible budget, but I think that we will come in at around between 3 and 4 million a year. We have guaranteed funding for five years. And during that time I think the expectation, that we have of ourselves, is that we will be able to identify some revenue streams which will not entail subscription and not entail advertising. So, that’s where we’re heading at the moment.
Richard Aedy: Okay, well, what have you got in mind for that? I mean, because there must, there do have to be some plans to raise revenue?
Monica Attard: No, we don’t, we have absolutely none whatsoever at the moment. We have five years of secure funding. We have five years in which to come up with some kind of plan that might help to fund us. There is no expectation on Graeme Wood’s part, or on our part, that we will ever be self-funding. It would almost be impossible, I would say. But to be able to have some revenue streams that could help us pay our own way might be a nice thing to come up with. But in the interim – when, at the moment, we are completely focused on launch, we are completely focused on the journalism.
How frightfully chummy. However, can you imagine a conservative receiving such soft questions if a Gina Rinehart had stumped up $15 million for a website?
Not on your nelly. But if the funder is a Greens supporter and the recipient is a leftie-luvvie like the delightful Attard – then it’s all okay.
MISHA SCHUBERT ASSISTS ROBERT MANNE BACK-FLIP
You have to admire the news sense of The Sunday Age – sometimes called The-Sunday- Guardian-on-the-Yarra.
Last Sunday the newspaper led with a story by Misha Schubert titled “Julia Gillard is the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon. Discuss.”
And now for some background. On 24 January 2012, The Age published an article by Robert Manne, titled “Back to the Future with Rudd”. Professor Manne voted for John Howard in 1996 but became disillusioned with the Coalition. He soon became a Labor voter again but gave the Greens his first preference in 2010. By early this year, Manne was back in the Rudd cart and advocated that he replace Julia Gillard as Labor leader and prime minister.
Manne’s Age article – which was also published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 January 2012 – contained the following sentences:
There is, however, another reason for Rudd’s popularity. Australians expect their prime ministers to have a vision for the future of their country and to move confidently on the international stage. Unlike his successor Julia Gillard – the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon – Rudd had a vision and an international presence.
The context makes it very clear that Robert Manne regards Julia Gillard as “the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon”. The claim was not linked to any discussion of the vision thing. There the matter rested – until Tony Abbott quoted Manne’s unequivocal sentence during his address to the National Press Club on 1 February. This clearly embarrassed the learned professor – since he regards Tony Abbott as as bad, or worse, than John Howard. So, with a little help from The Sunday Age, Manne tried to unsay what he previously said and fudge the fact that he believes that Julia Gillard is less impressive than John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser or Gough Whitlam.
Manne told a gullible Misha Schubert that he did not intend a literal comparison between Gillard and McMahon. Nor, according to Schubert, did Manne mean that Gillard was “the worst” prime minister since McMahon – since Manne is “mindful of the damage, he argues, John Howard did to the country”.
According to Manne Mark II, as told to Schubert, all he was saying was that Gillard lacks a narrative about how Australia should chart its course.
Now for some facts. Robert Manne did argue that Gillard was “the least impressive prime minister since Billy McMahon”. Moreover, his subsequent attempt to claim that he was quoted out of context was hardly Page 1 news.
Nancy has suggested this Page 1 lead for The Sunday Age this weekend:
“Misha Schubert is the most gullible journalist since Clark Kent. Discuss.”
Here’s how The Sunday Age covered Ms Schubert’s non-story last weekend.
And here’s how Robert Manne told the Guardian-on-the-Yarra readers that he had voted for John Howard in March 1996. Through his fault; through his fault; through his most grevious fault.
By the way, Robert Manne made no mention of the fact that he voted for the Coalition in March 1996 during his long review of John Howard’s Lazarus Rising which was published in the December 2010 issue of The Monthly.
CAN YOU BEAR IT?
▪ Shaun Carney Blames Electorate For Labor’s Poor Showing In the Polls
What a terrific piece by the Age associate editor Shaun Carney in The Saturday Age last weekend as the left-of-centre journalists of the world unite to repel Tony Abbott.
It seems, that from his desk at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra, Mr Carney is unaware of the opposition to Labor’s carbon tax emissions trading scheme in the suburbs and regional centres. Or that the Gillard Government lost support when it announced that a carbon tax would be introduced as a consequence of a broken election promise.
Rather, The Age’s associate editor reckons that Labor’s poor showing in the opinion polls is due to – wait for it – the electorate’s “profoundly wrong” understanding of Labor’s policy genius. So, it’s all the stupid voters’ fault.
Here is how Shaun Carney concluded his column in The Saturday Age on 4 February 2012:
It is truly bizarre that a government that has steered a growing economy through a global financial crisis during which most of its biggest trading partners have suffered deep recessions is not only met with indifference but open hostility by most voters. Something is profoundly wrong with the public’s comprehension of the contemporary Labor Party. The malady demands extensive treatment. Changing the leader might do the job, or it might require something much more radical.
So, according to Shaun Carney, “there is something profoundly wrong with the public comprehension of the contemporary Labor Party”. And be afraid, be very afraid. According to Carney, this particular “malady” requires “extensive treatment”.
Can you bear it?
▪ The Sunday Age Identifies Labor/Trade Union/Catholic Conspiracy
In The Sunday Age on 5 February 2012, Farrah Tomazin covered the election of James Merlino as deputy leader of the Victorian Labor Party. This is how The Sunday Age’s state politics editor described the new deputy leader of the Opposition in Victoria:
A former councillor and union official, Merlino is a social conservative from the Catholic-affiliated Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. When [Victorian ALP leader Daniel] Andrews was one of the Brumby government’s key supporters of decriminalising abortion a few years ago, Merlino was one of Labor’s most outspoken critics.
This is an appallingly written sentence. However, grammar aside, here’s a question. In what sense is the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (sometimes known as the SDA) “affiliated” with the Catholic Church? Sure, SDA leader Joe de Bruyn is a socially conservative Catholic. So what? The SDA is affiliated with the Labor Party and the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the ACTU. But St Patrick’s Cathedral and Rome? Turn it up.
This seems to be yet another attempt at a sectarian put-down of Catholics and the Catholic Church by a senior Age journalist. Can you bear it?
▪ Peter FitzSimons – Yet More (Anti-Christian) Sectarianism
Meanwhile the Sun-Herald in Sydney last Sunday, the red-bandanna-wearing Peter FitzSimons was at it again banging on about Christianity. Mr Fitzsimons rarely, if ever, criticises the religious views of Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists – but Christians, particularly Catholics, are fair game. Perhaps such selective indignation reflects FitzSimons’ wish to keep his bandanna-wearing head attached to his neck.
This is what Peter FitzSimons had to say about Greg Smith, the NSW Attorney-General who happens to be Catholic, in the Sun-Herald on 5 February 2012:
Member for God
You’d think this communication came straight out of the 1950s but it was in fact penned by the state Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Greg Smith, in his Christmas message to staff for their December 2011 newsletter.
”The Holy Family,” he wrote, ”started in great humility, with the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, where wise men following a star came to give homage and gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh [sic]. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who settled in Nazareth, are an inspiration for us all, especially in times when family values are scoffed at by a largely secular world.”
I hope this is a fair question. Are they the words of a man who sees all citizens of NSW as equal before the law, or, for him, is it the Christians who come first? Sir, the whole story of Jesus being born in a stable certainly is an inspiration for Christians but that does not describe a huge proportion of your employees (they told me). And as to your assertion that it is only those who believe in a Big Man Above the Clouds Watching Us who are able to have ”family values”, it really is a view lost from its natural place in time – the 1950s.
What a load of tosh. Greg Smith’s Christmas Card would not have offended Muslims – who regard Jesus Christ as an important prophet. Nor would it be offensive to Buddhists, Hindus or Jews.
Greg Smith’s point was that the family values of Joseph, Mary and Jesus of Nazareth “are an inspiration to us all”. What’s wrong with that? He manifestly did not say that “only those who believe in the Big Man Above the Clouds Watching Us have ‘family values’”. Here FitzSimons was verballing Smith. He should be able to do better than this.
As to the “Big Man Above the Clouds Watching Us” put-down. Well, FitzSimons would never made a similar derogatory remark about the Prophet Mohammed. Nor does he ever acknowledge that his friends Kim Beazley and Nick Farr Jones believe in the same God as Greg Smith.
With Peter FitzSimons, it’s always open season on Catholics – including those who read and buy the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun-Herald. Can you bear it?
MAIN FEATURE: HYPERBOLE OF THE WEEK JUDGED BY LUKE & LEIA:
STEP FORWARD MIKE CARLTON
MWD has a very small staff. So it’s great news that Luke & Leia have agreed to lend a paw (or paws) each week by sniffing around for the Hyperbole of the Week.
The inaugural – and, of course, prestigious – gong goes to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton. Last Saturday your man Carlton wrote that Rupert Murdoch was “now ga-ga”.
This is the very same Mr Carlton who last year claimed that political debate in Australia consisted of “puerile beer-garden insults of third rate minds”. [This is very unfair to beer-garden drinkers. Ed].
Mike Carlton – a deserving winner of Luke & Leia’s Hyperbole of the Week Award, to be sure.
PHILLIP ADAMS AO’S “SHELF LIFE” – AS DICTATED TO NANCY
Phillip Adams AO (for an AO he is) has kindly agreed to dictate an occasional column to Nancy. MWD is very grateful to Mr Adams AO but should warn readers that today’s exclusive bears a certain resemblance to the real thing – Mr Adams AO’s “Shelf life” column which was published in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 28 January 2012.
* * * * * *
I have returned to the land of Perpendicular from the land of Horizontal – from a near death experience to a near life experience (which is my current condition). There I was, having fallen in a heap outside my mansion at Scone. I do not know who left the heap there but I assume that it was one of my enemies. Perhaps Gerard Henderson. But more likely Tim Burstall. I know that the late unlamented Tim died in 2004 but he was always intent on giving me heaps and I expect that one or more heap outlived our Tim. Film directors, even those of the recently departed genre, are like that. All my enemies are right-wing extremists. Except for the left-wing extremists, who include film directors.
Anyway, when I was horizontally challenged out Scone way, I was picked up from the gutter by ambos and placed on a gurney. In fact, I went on a personal gurney of life – looking at the sun, then the stars, then the lights of the operating theatre. Never before have I examined so many nostrils for so long except when I lie in my bed at Scone and examine my nostrils per courtesy of the mirror in the ceiling.
Our comparative indifference to what is above our heads is dramatised by the fact that we spend more time on carpets than we do in the clouds. Except, of course, when we are in the clouds – flying between hospitals, on a variety of planes from Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas. Although Qantas planes do have some carpet.
During my time as a ceiling-centric narcissist, I came to the view that my fall-in-a-heap out Scone way had certain advantages. I could write all about this is my “Shelf life” column in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 28 January.
This fills a gap since – unlike my life as a presenter on Radio National’s Late Night Live – I do not have anyone to do my research and I am not very good at facts. So I will have a valid excuse to write, once more, about myself – albeit from a different perspective and, indeed, angle.
To wit, the Horizontal. There is one way of seeing the world. Perpendicular. Upright. Vertical. Plumb. Orthodiagonal. Thesaurus. That sort of thing. Then there is the Horizontal position. Level. Flat. Homaloidal. Flattened. Thesaurus. Putting such words in my column takes up useful space and fulfils the instruction of my post-fall-in-a-heap medical advice to focus on word association games. I tried another one which gave me great pleasure. It went – Phillip,AO,Adams,AO,Adams,Phillip,AO.
As I gurneyed in the back of my ambulance through the backstreets of Scone, I was lost in a world of powerlines, fast food signs, the unseen second storeys of shops which – as I now know – can only be viewed from ambulances. And clouds and pelicans and planes from Jetstar, Virgin, Qantas. And other people’s nostrils. All leaving their snail trails of vapour over Scone and causing damaging climate change to me and Patrice and the Scone set. Me, myself and I – we never get in a plane unless I am flying or I am being medivacted from Scone. Someone’s got to give a lead on combating dangerous climate change and reducing dangerous vapours.
In the past, I have only gone Horizontal in public to view Michelangelo’s graffiti in the Sistine Chapel which is run by that Pope person who is a dreadful Catholic who declines to follow the teachings of us atheists like the Blessed Richard Dawkins. But I now recognise that there is much to be said for this Horizontal condition, especially if you have to put 650 words together for The Weekend Australian Magazine each week.
Finally, after four ambulances, three hospitals, two operations and one nuclear medical facility, there is bad news for all of you who send me hate mail – especially the late Tim Burstall. Rumours of my death were exaggerated. A saying I invented, which was stolen by the Mark Twain Fan Club. I slowly, nervously, sat up, then stood up and then walked and eliminated the Horizontal and accentuated the Perpendicular. Now I can look down my nose on others, especially Tim Burstall.
I hope that Rupert Murdoch and Chris Mitchell enjoyed reading about my personal gurney from Scone and back – after all, they pay for this fact-free narcissistic hyperbolic sludge every week. Next week I will write about my teenage years in the Communist Party for the 169th time.
● GERARD HENDERSON AND FRED HILMER RE ALL THAT’S LEFT : IN WHICH THE UNSW VC GOES ALL POST-MODERN AND FACT-FREE
The Correspondence section is one of Media Watch Dog’s most popular segments. During 2011, MWD has dealt at some (obsessive) length about the inability of Monash University academics Dr Nick Dyrenfurth and Dr Tim Soutphommasane – for doctors they are – to stump up any evidence to support the undocumented assertions in their book All That’s Left. All That’s Left was published by UNSW Press which is attached to the University of New South Wales. See MWD ad nauseam but particularly Issues 96 and 103 where the full correspondence is published.
MWD aficionados have been running a bet on how long it would take the UNSW Vice- Chancellor to reply to Gerard Henderson’s email of 8 June 2011. And the winner is the MWD reader who put money on a mere seven months. Just seven.
Here is the remainder of the correspondence.
Fred Hilmer To Gerard Henderson – 18 January 2012
I am writing in response to your letters dated 12 January 2012 and 10 November 2011, both relating to an email to me back on 8 June 2011 and the subsequent response from Professor Richard Henry two days later. I do recall calling you on this, but you were away and I was then overseas so we didn’t connect.
I am advised that the “All That’s Left” publication you refer to does not directly quote you. The comments made are the editors’ personal interpretation of published columns by you and others. I support Professor Henry’s earlier response and suggest that further debate be with the authors who are not UNSW staff.
Professor Frederick G Hilmer AO
President and Vice-Chancellor
The University of New South Wales
Gerard Henderson To Fred Hilmer – 8 February 2012
It was great to catch up last night.
I refer to your email of 18 January 2012 in reply to my letters to you dated 8 June 2011, 10 November 2011 and 12 January 2012. I appreciate that you are busy. However, this seems a long time not to reply to correspondence which warrants a response.
It’s true that you did phone me on this – at 4.42 pm on 8 July 2011. I was temporarily out of the office and the staff member (who took the call) advised that I should not ring back since you were about to go into an appointment and that you would phone me later. Her message reads as follows: “Fred Hilmer – don’t call now, he’s at the dentist. He’ll call you.”
As you know, you never called – and last night was the first opportunity I had to discuss this matter with you.
In your email of 18 January 2012 you wrote:
I am advised that the “All That’s Left” publication you refer to does not directly quote you. The comments made are the editors’ personal interpretation of published columns by you and others. I support Professor Henry’s earlier response and suggest that further debate be with the authors who are not UNSW staff.
You are the President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of New South Wales. Yet you accept no responsibility for the content of books published by UNSW Press which is attached to the University of New South Wales. In fact, neither UNSW nor UNSW Press will accept responsibility for material published by UNSW Press.
As you will be aware if you have read the correspondence, I am not seeking “further debate” with the authors of the “Introduction” to All That’s Left – who also happen to be the editors. All I am asking is that they provide evidence for the undocumented assertions they made about me in All That’s Left – or withdraw the allegations. Dr Dyrenfurth and Dr Soutphommasane refuse to provide evidence or withdraw their claims – without evidence there is nothing to debate.
In the introduction to All That’s Left, Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane made the following claim:
Whether it is Gerard Henderson, Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt or Christopher Pearson, there is only carping and invective. To be on the Right is to believe that Labor has returned to its socialist ways: that everything is symbolic and hollow; that political correctness has run riot; and, of course, that Judeo-Christian values are under threat.
I cannot speak for what Dr Albrechtsen, Mr Bolt or Mr Pearson may have said or written. However, I have never said or written that (i) Labor has returned to its order cialis without perscription socialist ways or (ii) that everything is symbolic and hollow or (iii) political correctness has run riot or (iv) Judeo-Christian values are under threat.
According to your email and what you said last night, I should accept what the authors/editors wrote in All That’s Left because I am linked with “others”. There is no logic to such a claim. Also, I have a different writing style from – and do not necessarily agree with – the three people mentioned above.
As President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW, you are rationalising unprofessional behaviour – whereby academics can make wild unsubstantiated assertions. You would not have tolerated such unprofessionalism when you were chief executive of Fairfax Media.
It is true – as you say in your email – that All That’s Left “does not directly quote me”. That’s the problem. UNSW Press has published a book which does not have endnotes or footnotes or a bibliography – and which was not fact-checked.
You rationalise the claims made about me in All That’s Left by the authors/editors on the basis that “the comments made are the editors’ personal interpretation of published columns” by me and others. You do not say what the alleged “published columns” are and where they can be identified.
How can the authors/editors of All That’s Left come to an “interpretation” which is based on no evidence of any kind? I understand that you have concluded this correspondence and, in the tradition of Professor Richard Henry, will not answer the question. You have told me to take the matter up with the authors/editors knowing that they have refused to provide evidence to support their claims.
In conclusion, I offer some (gratuitous) advice:
▪ UNSW Press should engage a fact-checker.
Anne Henderson’s latest book Joseph Lyons (UNSW Press) has been praised by the likes of Rodney Cavalier, David Day, John Howard, Michelle Grattan and Barry Jones – among others. Anne had a good editor and Anne herself arranged for her biography to be fact-checked.
Sophie Cunningham’s Melbourne (UNSW Press) was released shortly before Joseph Lyons. Melbourne is littered with factual errors. Clearly UNSW Press did not engage a fact-checker for Melbourne – just like it did not engage a fact-checker for All That’s Left. In my view, university publishing houses should set high standards for accuracy. On some occasions at least, UNSW Press fails this test. A fact-checker should resolve this problem.
▪ Non-fiction books published by UNSW Press should be documented or the publisher should advise that authors/editors will provide documentation on request. Alternatively, documentation could be placed – at relatively little cost – on UNSW Press’ website.
One final point. I am genuinely surprised that in your recently acquired Vice-Chancellor persona you have gone all post-modern and now seem to hold the view that facts do not matter – and that “personal interpretations” based on no documented evidence will do. Fancy that.
Last night, you suggested that I had no alternative but to publish corrections to All That’s Left in some of The Sydney Institute’s publications. I will do so – but it is no substitute for an acknowledgement by the authors/editors or by UNSW Press – that there is no evidence for the claims made about me in All That’s Left.
● MICHAEL PEARCE SC AND GERARD HENDERSON FEATURING THE SILENCE OF THE AGE
MWD Issue 122 (27 January 2012) published Gerard Henderson’s correspondence with Michael Pearce SC concerning Newt Gingrich and Julian Assange. At issue was Mr Pearce’s claim in The Age that Newt Gingrich had called for Assange to be murdered.
Michael Pearce wrote to Gerard Henderson late last Friday. His letter and the response are published below:
Michael Pearce to Gerard Henderson – 3 February 2012
I have looked for but not been able to find any substantiation for the report on the Infowars website on which I based my claim that Gingrich had called for Assange to be murdered.
I am not sure that I have badly represented Gingrich’s views as it is clear he advocates that Assange, as an enemy combatant, should be killed. However, I accept that there is a difference between murder and killing and that I was wrong to attribute to Gingrich the view that Assange should be murdered.
I have asked The Age to correct the online version of the article.
After you first raised this issue with me, and before I went on leave, I looked briefly for substantiation of the Infowars report. When I was unable to find any, I then suggested to The Age that it might publish a correction. It declined. I think it would be too late to do so now and I have not repeated that suggestion to it.
Thank you for drawing this matter to my attention.
Michael Pearce SC
Gerard Henderson to Michael Pearce – 9 February 2012
Thank you for your note of last Friday. I find that some academics are most reluctant to admit – let alone correct – errors. So, I found the approach of a prominent barrister in this instance refreshing.
Certainly Newt Gingrich regards Julian Assange as an enemy combatant. But this does not necessarily mean that he advocates that Assange should be killed. As you are aware, there are some enemy combatants incarcerated in the United States – I doubt that most of them will be executed, if found guilty of a crime or crimes.
In any event, we are in agreement that Gingrich did not call for Assange’s murder.
It is interesting to note that The Age declined your offer to publish a correction in this instance – especially since the newspaper has a policy of correcting errors.
Perhaps acknowledging that The Age published an error about a conservative like Newt Gingrich was asking too much for the in-house journal of Michael Leunig.
* * * * *
Until next time.